A chance encounter with Phil Mickelson as a 10-year-old helped launch Wyatt Rubin’s golfing career.
“I was just starting out in golf in 2007 and me and my dad went to Doral and we followed Phil Mickelson during his round,” said the 18-year-old Rubin, who lives in Pompano Beach. “He had just finished the 13th hole and flipped his golf ball to me. He said, ‘here you go kid.’ I still have that ball today. It was the Holy Grail for me.”
Rubin recently won the Junior Golf Association of Broward County’s Boys Championship Flight by firing an even par, 72 (35-37) at the Plantation Preserve Golf Club. Fellow Pompano Beach resident Isak Nilsson tied for sixth just four shots back after shooting 38- 38-76.
Rubin hit 13 of 18 greens for his win and putted well as he totaled six birdies in his round. He recorded birdies on 1, 7, 9, 11, 15 and 17 and came back from a double bogey on 10.
He started playing in the Junior Golf Association (JGA) of Broward County when he was 10 and was in the lower flights as he worked his way up. The best he had done in the JGA of Broward was tying for third at Plantation Preserve last year.
The recent Calvary Christian Academy graduate is in the process of walking on at Florida Atlantic University. He is preparing for a September tournament staged by the school for walk-on golfers.
“It would be amazing to play college golf,” said Rubin, who helped his high school team win district and regional titles in golf. “Just like going to states in high school was a big deal, to be able to say I played a Division 1 sport in college would be a really good accomplishment. I am going to try my best and we’ll see.”
Golf almost wasn’t in his future. He made the Calvary Christian school team as a seventh grader, but gave up the sport in the eighth grade.
“I was sick of golf,” Rubin said. “I played in a lot of tournaments that required me driving like two hours when I was younger. I played both days on the weekends and it took all of my time. I wasn’t playing very well. It was just so time consuming and it was frustrating.”
Rubin didn’t even watch golf on TV and didn’t play the sport at all for a year.
“When I came back for my freshman year, I was refreshed and from then on I kept getting better and better,” Rubin said. “It was exciting because I got to hang out with all of my friends and my coach Marty Fanning, who was my teacher in the third grade and is like a mentor of mine.”
He said the JGA of Broward County has been the majority of his competitive golf experience. He likes the players and the organizers.
“It is such a cool thing to wake up on a Monday morning and go play some competitive golf,” Rubin said. “Competitive golf is a feeling you can’t replicate anywhere else.”
Knowing he won a tournament that a current PGA golfer has probably won in their history is also exciting.
“I was thinking the whole week after I won I was like the big man on campus for one week,” Rubin said. “I am sure there have been some really good golfers who have won the boys championship in the past.
“Every time I won a lower flight tournament in the past, it felt good, but it wasn’t the Championship Flight,” he added. “And to finally pull off a championship where all the best players were in and to call myself the best in the entire JGA for that week, really felt good.”
In other divisions involving local golfers at Plantation Preserve, Pompano Beach’s Daria Korovina shot a 30 to place fourth in the Girls B Division. Weston’s Polina Anisimova carded a 25 to win the division.
Two Pompano Beach golfers finished fourth and sixth respectively in the Boys Junior Division. Dylan Glatt shot a 42-41-83 to finish fourth, while Nicklaus O’Bryan was sixth just three shots back with a 43-43-86.
Deerfield Beach’s Justin Danzansky carded a 48 to finish seventh in the Boys A Division. He was seven shots back of Sunrise’s Orangel Machado. In the Boys E Division, Daniel Melnick of Pompano Beach shot a 24 to finish four shots behind winner Evan Kuperman of Parkland.
Pompano Beach’s Mateo Desmond carded a 14 to tie for second with Lauderhill’s Israel Bailey in the Boys F Division. Pembroke Pines’ Jose Esteras also shot a 2-over par, 14 and won the division on a tiebreaker.
There are five more weeks left in the JGA of Broward season, including the three-day final tournament to be held at the end of July at Jacaranda Golf Club, Woodlands Country Club and Ft. Lauderdale Country Club.